Lance Von Erich joined Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman recently on the Wrestling Inc. Daily for his first video interview in over 30 years.
As someone who wrestled under the prestigious surname of Von Erich, Lance rubbed shoulders with big names in the business. Before adopting the legendary last name, the real-life William Vaughn was discovered by Fritz Von Erich.
“Well I never trained under Fritz, he just hired me,” Lance said. “Kevin and Kerry didn’t really train with him either. He only came around a couple minutes, three or four times. It was George Weingroff who trained me in Dallas, and Chick Donovan.”
Lance noted that many of his peers and mentors questioned his decision to get into professional wrestling, considering his fortunate upbringing.
“Thinking about it, there was a lot of them who trained me and they all said the same thing, ‘Why?'” Lance said. “You know, I grew up [driving] a new Jaguar and in those days, Jaguars were a big thing. ‘Why would you want to get into wrestling?’ And I was like, ‘To make money.’ And they all looked at me, and kind of laughed. They never said anything because they were afraid Fritz would get mad. But they all kind of shook their head in a way, like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ They didn’t know I was going to be a Von Erich though.”
Once he broke into the business, Lance said he was seeing big money right out the gate. The large paychecks corresponded with large crowds, which Lance recalled dwindling fast.
“My first paycheck was for about ten minutes, and it was a really, really big paycheck,” Lance said. “I miss the time that they were doing really well. Every house [show] that I went to, or every wrestling match that I went to that was a big ticket, seemed to be less and less and less. When we did Dallas the first time, it was a huge, huge, huge audience. Then the second one, half of that. The third one, again, half of that. I think one of the last ones I had done, there was nobody in the stadium. The funny thing is when I went to South Africa, when I quit, I was like a Von Erich there. In fact, I used the name. I didn’t want to, I didn’t care, but they used that name. I was as well over, and I was making more money in South Africa, and the rent and the dollar was a lot less.”
Vinny Berry, the author of Lance’s upcoming biography, put the decreasing audiences in perspective, making point of all the unpredicted circumstances that surrounded those years.
“You got to understand, just to put things in perspective, in May of 1984 when Kerry won the NWA World Title at Texas Stadium, there was like over 40,000 people who had paid to go to that event,” Vinny said. “Then, in 1987, three years later, not even 7,000 people went. There was a decline in the territory, but you know a lot of stuff happened. Gino Hernandez died, Mike Von Erich died, Kerry had his motorcycle accident. You know, a lot of tragedy happened. Even too, in February of’84, David died. There was a lot of people that I believe were heartbroken at that 1987 Parade of Champions where only 7,000 people [showed up].”
As a wrestler, Lance only used the Von Erich name, and was not actually blood-related to the historic wrestling family. Lance emphasized that the shrinking attendance was not because fans found out he wasn’t really a Von Erich, but rather because of Fritz Von Erich did not want to expand outside of their territory.
“Not really, because it wasn’t because of me,” Lance said. “I’ll tell you the problem was Fritz didn’t want to go. The Von Erichs could have been what McMahon is today. Fritz didn’t want to venture out further than he was. I remember we went up to the east coast. We went up to Philadelphia once, we went up to New York. We pulled really big houses, but he didn’t want to leave the DFW area. And it’s a shame, because he could’ve made everyone a lot of money, and we could’ve been where WWF is today.”
Lance By Chance: Wrestling As A Von Erich is now available for purchase at LanceByChance.com. You can find the full audio and video from Lance’s interview below: